Tag Archives: strawberries

Friday 5 – Yes, it’s back!

4 Jun

By Chris Garbutt

Back to start your weekend off right. Check these out:

1. Grill brownies? Yes you can!

2. In China, what do they call Chinese food? Well, they call it food. If I ever get to go to Beijing, I definitely have to visit Roast Fish Legend.

3. The case – from a vegetarian no less – for a carnivorous environmentalism. Key quote: “Eat less meat. Eat better meat.”

4. While they’re still in season, try making a shaved asparagus pizza.

5. Strawberry Risotto? Are you kidding me?

Friday 5 – Top Posts of the Summer

5 Sep

By Chris Garbutt

It’s been a fun summer of blogging here at Pan Magazine. Here are our five most popular links of the last four months:

1. A Capital Berry – My love letter to strawberries in season.

2. Five Delicious Newfoundland Dishes – A selection of the best from the rock.

3. Ten Reasons to Love Chocolate: A Healthy Passion – One of our favourite books this summer, on an ingredient we can enjoy year-round.

4. Magic Gnocchi Night – An Argentinian tradition.

5. Eat Local, Save the Environment a Little – Turns out red meat is more environmentally damaging than food that comes from thousands of miles away.

A Capital Berry

15 Jun

By Chris Garbutt
It was a hot summer day June. My then-fianceé and I were in Pusateri’s on Avenue Road in Toronto, picking out what I think is overpriced produce. The selection of strawberries was terrific. As Mary reached for a plastic package of organic berries, I reacted perhaps a little excessively.

“No,” I said, “You will not eat California strawberries when they’re in season here.”

“But…”

“But nothing. Those aren’t even real strawberries. Those are strawberries on steroids!”

“They’re organic.”

Okay, well, maybe they weren’t on steroids, but I just cannot think of the strawberries that travel thousands of miles to our city as real. They’re too big, they’re tasteless, and they’re mostly white in the middle. For me strawberries don’t exist for ten months of the year.

My hometown of Stouffville celebrates the Strawberry Festival every year on the Canada Day weekend. For a while, our town called itself the Strawberry Capital of Ontario. It never seemed like much of a distinction, really, and somewhere along the line the moniker was dropped. I found out recently that Clarkson (now a part of Mississauga) has held the title since the late 19th century. The whole capital thing is a bit out of control anyway: several U.S. towns (at least one in Florida, one in Tennessee and two in California) refer to themselves as the strawberry capital of the entire world!

The festival began when I was a little kid, and has endured since then. The strawberry has a much longer history in Canada. The wild version – that tiny, heavenly, sweet red berry – has been growing in this part of the world for all of recorded history. The wild strawberry sets the standard for the flavour, but collecting them requires a walk in the woods, a great deal of crouching, and a search that could prove, well, fruitless.

So the next best thing is the farmed version, especially when it’s still freshly picked and warm. A visit to a pick-your-own farm is definitely the way to go if you’re hardcore, but I’m perfectly happy to forgo the sore knees and back, and buy a pint from a farmer’s market. Sometimes I’ll take them home with big ideas for recipes, but usually, they end up as and snack that only ends when the bottom of the carton is reached. Better than chocolate. Way better than chocolate.

I have two vivid memories. The first is when, at a very young age, I decided I hated strawberries. My father had salvaged some fresh ones from his garden (the birds loved to poach them and no amount of plastic sheeting or netting was deterring them). He handed me a berry, so red it was almost black. I bit, taking half of it in my mouth. It was tart and sweet at the same time, so intense I recoiled. I couldn’t handle it.

My second memory is from a few days later, when I learned to love strawberries again. The smell of shortcake baking filled my mother’s kitchen. The flavours of the crisp yet fluffy shortcake (none of that spongy angel food stuff), combined with the sweet strawberries and the whipped cream brought me back to the humble berry. It’s not complicated, but the recipe has been handed down for four generations from my maternal great grandmother. It’s my turn now – maybe if I make this recipe for Mary, she’ll forgive me my supermarket rantings.

Great Grandmother Marshall’s Strawberry Shortcake

2 cups flour

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup butter

4 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

Fresh strawberries (about 3/4 of a quart, but as many as you want to eat), hulled and cut in half. You might want to sprinkle a teaspoon or two of sugar to make it sweeter and draw out the juices.

250 ml whipping cream, whipped

Mix dry ingredients together. Cut in butter until the mixture has the look of small peas. Using a rubber spatula, gradually add milk until it is just mixed in. Don’t over mix, or the dough will become tough.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drop spoonfuls of the dough onto a cookie sheet in the size you desire. Bake for 12 minutes. Tops should be just golden or slightly brown. Allow the shortcakes to cool slightly.

Place shortcakes on individual plates or shallow bowls. Cut tops off shortcakes. Spoon strawberries onto bottom halves of shortcakes, and replace tops. Garnish tops of shortcakes with one or two strawberry pieces and whipped cream to taste.

Makes about 6 large or 12 small shortcakes.

PS. I’m not the only one who feels so passionately about the strawberries-on-steroids problem. Check out Taste.To’s take on the subject.

UPDATE: Great posting about wild strawberries (with jam recipe) here.